Lenny Bruce is Dead Paperback – Apr 16 2001
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From Publishers Weekly
Goldstein's woeful, funny debut novel is a series of aphorism-capped vignettes, paced at the rate of approximately one scene per paragraph. As these snapshots flash past, protagonist Josh ages rapidly from child to onanistic teen to depressive adult, mourning the death of his mother and the loss of a series of vividly described girlfriends along the way. Throughout, descriptions of Josh's suburban-anytown Jewish upbringing and job at local fast-food franchise Burger Zoo, while peppered with scatological and Portnoy's Complaint-esque sordidly sexual details, often achieve a level of nuance that's poetic and almost profound. In the latter third of the book, Josh's preoccupation with a Hasidic neighbor and the "Rebbe's Kosher-style Love Lotion" that he begins to experiment with grow repetitive and confusing. But "This American Life" contributing editor Goldstein has a knack for imagery ("He was crying on the floor, pulling toilet paper off the spool with both hands like he was climbing a rope") and ear for hyper-realistic dialogue, making him a writer to watch. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
A neurotic antihero as funny and compelling as the ones Mordecai Richler and Phlip Roth used to dream up... -- Paul Tough, Open Letters
Lenny Bruce is Dead, by Jonathan Goldstein, is an experimental novel. We know that because there is almost as much white space as there is type. If it were condensed to normal space it would take up about 70 pages. Josh's mother died when he was a young man. He spends his time in disjointed reminiscences about his childhood and adolescence, his family, and his sexual experiences. It is a boring and frustrating reading experience. The scattered snippets of story are like notes for something more substantial. It reminds me of material I encountered in first year creative writing classes, written mainly by non-readers who lacked the ability to imagine a genuine story, so self-absorbed they were incapable of writing about anything but their own pathetic lives. They would then defend their self-indulgent twaddle as experimental though they had no idea of what a real novel of story was about. Pass this one by. --W.P. Kinsella (Books in Canada) -- Books in Canada
One wishes Lenny Bruce is Dead a long life. -- Kevin Chong, The National Post, April 21, 2001
This is an assured, completely original debut from a writer to be reckoned with... -- Kevin Connolly, eye, April 1, 2001
Top Customer Reviews
However, I recently read his second book, "Schmelvis", and it's extraordinary. It's not a novel but rather a sort of road trip memoir. It's about a documentary Goldstein worked on about Elvis Presley's Jewish roots (yes, believe it or not, the King was a Hebe) and it is brilliant. He and a film crew, a chassidic jewish Elvis impersonator named Schmelvis and a wacky Rabbi went to Memphis and Israel looking for evidence. Hilarious, touching, fascinating, all at the same time. I'd recommend that Jonathan's fans run, don't walk, and pick up "Schmelvis". Much more in the spirit of This American life than Lenny Bruce is dead, although his novel does have its moments so you might want to read that as well.
It tells the story of a young man's life and experiences with his parents, religion and girlfriends by throwing disjointed paragraphs together. In one paragraph Goldstein may be describing a moment with a girlfriend while in the next paragraph he jumps to some totally unrelated topic. These unconnected snipets of memory go on for 200 pages and causes much frustration for the reader. It is a book that has nothing to offer as the ending is unconclusive. A waste of time.
Most recent customer reviews
i came accross this book by accident without knowledge of goldstein's prior work. i can understand how some wouldn't appreciate the book, it is definitely an ubercontemporary work,... Read morePublished on Feb. 13 2006 by melody m.
I almost didn't read this book when I first picked it up. I was like, "'Lenny Bruce is Dead' well yeah, and the sky is blue, so what! Read morePublished on March 7 2002 by Mike Stumph